By Nancy R. Rossi
Mayor of West Haven
My administration has begun the annual budget process and I will present my first budget for fiscal year 2019 (July 1, 2018-June 30, 2019) to the city council by March 15, as required by the city charter. I have already requested and received budget requests from the department heads along with significant budget reduction options.
Making the budget process even more challenging this year is my inheritance of former Mayor Edward M. O’Brien’s $1 million-dollar deficit (still being audited) from fiscal year 2017 (ended June 30) and his inclusion of $8 million of wishful revenue in the current fiscal year that never materialized, leaving the city with an $8 million current year deficit to address.
On top of that, there will be an extra approval needed this year with the city being assigned to the Municipal Accountability Review Board (MARB). As you may remember the city was assigned to the MARB state control board after Mayor O’Brien and the previous city council deficit bonded for $17 million five days before I took office. The state oversight does allow West Haven to apply for up to $8 million in temporary grants for two years to correct its fiscal problems. This will give West Haven a little time and flexibility to deal with the mishandling of prior budgets.
I plan on presenting an honest and bare bones budget to the MARB and city council that will fund the city’s essential services for our residents while making some very tough but necessary and long overdue reductions—all without raising taxes on our already overtaxed residents. This budget will be step one in eliminating the deficits left by the prior administration and implementing much-needed fiscal responsibility and accountability for our taxpayers.
I understood the many financial challenges and the total mismanagement that preceded me — but please know that I will deal with the issues quickly, honestly and professionally. I look forward to working with the MARB and all our City Council members to present and execute an honest budget that will be good for our residents and business community and show the regional and national business leaders that West Haven is finally open for business and wants to prosper!